Enabler and Desperate

by Totally powerless
(Canada)

I can't Stop! My son is a drug addict. At present he is living on his own in what used to be a crack house. He rents a bachelor apt. (More like a bedroom.) His place is totally disgusting, he does not clean up anything. He moved there after I asked him to leave our home because he had stolen $2,000. from our line of credit.

He is on social assistance and as soon as he gets paid he pays his rent and spends the rest of his money on drugs and neglects to buy himself food. I of course am right there for him to rescue him. In the last month I have probably spent $1,000. on him for groceries and cigarettes. I think in my mind that I am helping him to stay alive. This of course in not true.

I attend a 12 step program and have learned that I am extremely codependent. I have learned that the reason I enable him is to make myself feel better. If he has food I don't have to worry and loose sleep. But, the fact is that I am making things worse. I am freeing up his money so he can go and buy more drugs, and get more addicted to them. I am just as sick as he is.

I have worked hard in the past to stop myself from doing this and have succeeded at times. But, I always end up right back to were I started and spend money on him again!

I feel ashamed and disgusted with myself. Why can't I get it? Why do I continuously relapse? I know that I cannot continue this pattern. I need to stop once and for all.

I don't know all the answers and ask my higher power to give me the strength I need to stop enabling him. I am powerless over my addiction to codependency. All I know is that I HAVE TO keep working my program and hope that I will soon learn to not enable him.

I know that If I do not stop soon I will either cause his death or mine. GOD HELP ME!


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Dec 14, 2009
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I'm just starting my recovery
by: Anonymous

God wants us all to be happy. I had to think about this long and hard...what will make me happy? One thing I came up with was to stop enabling my son. That does not make me happy and actually makes me really hate myself when I keep letting him back in my life.

I've thought about all the people in my life that have just about had it with me and my enabling. Once my loved ones stopped enabling me, I was now in a position to tell my son, you're destroying me and I'm killing you. He is now in half-way house with no contact from me. I feel so free and liberated from his addiction, but still pray for him to embrace the 12 step program and fix himself because I can't.

Dec 09, 2009
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for totally powerless
by: momforlife

I absolutely hurt for you. I know a parent's love for their child can be so powerful. I sometimes think the saying should be "I admit I am powerless over what my children need and want."
But think of it this way: we are all God's children. You are God's child.

Think back in your life to everything you ever wanted, needed (or thought you needed), and what you've ever asked God for. If God had rolled over and obliged every request, you would probably be in bad shape.

God knows we are only human. He knows we don't always know what is best for us. Therefore he doesn't give us everything we ask for.
That high school sweetheart I knew was "the one" and prayed to marry?... whew! That would've been a disaster! The job I prayed and pleaded to get ten years ago?... the job I have now it way better! That loan we were praying to get on a new house?... we'd be neck-deep in debt right now! As the saying goes, "Thank God for unanswered prayers!" Or should we say, Thank God for saying "no" sometimes?

As in the case of your son, it is as if you are his "god" and you are obliging every little need -even before he prays for it. If you stop handing over money to him, one day he'll be able to say to you "Thank God you stopped feeding me and made me feed myself." But if you don't stop enabling him, you are robbing him of the chance and ability to feel, really FEEL, the consequences of his mistakes. And, man, does that hurt for us parents to have to witness!

Your son may need to feel the pangs of hunger for a long time before he begins to better his situation. But if you can try to separate the experiences that he must live through from the love you feel for him, your own life will begin to take a tiny turn for the better.

Dec 07, 2009
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Feelings.
by: Mr. Fix-it

I so feel for you. I am in a recovering process from chemical dependency and Co-dependence. AA saved my life: Co-dependence Anonymous is restoring me to sanity. The 12 steps work for all behaviors I want to change. It is said of the disease of Alcoholism that it is, 'cunning, baffling and powerful'. And no less so is codependency.

As Sue said...you don't have to get well. In fact, at least for me, it seemed that it would be easier to stay stuck...At least I knew what to expect. Recovery is a process. I was stuck for many years. I have to remember that it takes time to change. And I have to remember to take care of me. It was always so much easier to take care of
others while I neglected me. My goal is to learn to be as kind to myself as I have been to other people...even total strangers.

I had to look at a number of things. One of them was that I needed to be needed. And if someone who needed me got well and left, I would be devastated. I now know that I helped keep other people dependent on me. I deprived them of learning how to take care of themselves.

Then I had to look at how I learned to do this. Turns out that growing up in a dysfunctional family is the most likely school. My Dad was alcoholic and the family was always in turmoil of some kind. As the oldest boy , it became my job to take care of my mother's emotional well being. I became her confident and surrogate husband. Although I had not noticed until it was pointed out, ALL of the women I had ever been in a relationship with (as an adult) were just like my Mom.

I say all of this to say, I would guess you have been taking care of other people from the time you were a young girl. My parents had no intention of hurting me. They could only give me what they had been given. This is NOT about blaming anyone; it IS about getting our history's straight. Once I started to see some roots of this codependency, I was better able to make progress.

For a long time I would occasionally declare, "I can't do this anymore." But, of course, I could (and did). It was not until I started to declare, "I WON'T do this anymore" that things began to change. I have been amazed at how well other people can take care of themselves if I will just get out of the way. I view that as my mission now, to just get the heck out of the way. I have been working on this since 1990. I am not well. But I AM so much better. I have learned to say NO to many questions and requests... That two letter word, "no" was so hard to say... I learned to do it and the experience is priceless. I can say NO today. At he same time I am saying YES to myself. Yes, I love myself. Yes, I will spend time doing something I want to do. YES to life!

There is Hope and help. Get connected with a 12 step group. The tools will be provided for free. Learning to use them will be the finest thing you could ever do for yourself. I will get out of your way now. (smile). Peace, Love and Light to you. David

Dec 07, 2009
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Self Empowerment
by: sue

It is good that your are recognizing that you are both co-dependent. Unfortunately in today's society we feel a sense of guilt if we do not do everything in our power to help our children.

I learnt long ago that we need to let go of our children and let them fall where they will and just let them know that we love them. As a parent this is never easy but I believe it is the right track to go down. I have had to do this with both of my children for different reasons to yours but the outcome is the same.

One question is why do you feel the need to continually support him it is because you are indeed filling a need of your own that you missed in your own childhood.

Dec 07, 2009
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To Enabler and Desperate
by: Angie Carter

I agree with mxkx--it does take time but it IS possible! Sometimes we have to start out with baby steps. Setting a boundary and remembering that the most important part of a boundary is the follow through. I try to not hand out empty threats or manipulation.

For instance, I had a friend who decided she wasn't going to babysit just so her son could go out and party. She would watch the child, but not for that reason. Another person I know decided not to pay for their insurance on their car any more. Many people start out with smaller boundaries and work their way up.

Another thing you can try is to sit down with yourself and get honest. You really don't HAVE to stop enabling. You don't HAVE to get well from codependency. You may have some terrible outcomes it you don't, but that's the price we pay for not taking the action to get better. I know that really doesn't sound helpful, but think about it. It is the same way with the addict (I am an addict and I know this to be true.) They don't HAVE to get well, and as codependents we don't have to either. It is the desire to want to be well that makes it happen (because then we take all the necessary steps to do so.) Getting well is not mandatory or a necessity.

As soon as you start telling yourself that you don't have to do anything about your problem, it gives the resistant part of your mind a break. It actually activates and strengthens the part that does want recovery and to be healthy. Try it.

I just know for me, that getting honest about what I have to do and what I want to do made sense. Also what you said about codependent being about ME and not about my son was exactly what I learned too. It is the same kind of selfishness as the addict, it just doesn't look like it. They told me at my support group that if I REALLY love my son, I would be willing to put my feelings on the back burner and do the next right thing. With their help I did, and it has been working ever since.

You can do this and recovery is possible. Your situation is not hopeless. I will be saying a prayer for your willingness and that God will continue to provide you with strength, power and guidance. God Bless and keep posting!...it helps to get support :)

Dec 07, 2009
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It takes time!
by: mxkx

The answers lie not in stopping your behavior with pure will power but in changing your entire outlook on life. That's why you find yourself unable to stop. You're trying to put an end to the behavior but you're not doing any "inner" work, which seems hinted at in the statement that you don't know why you're doing this.

I am pretty sure the 12 steps would not be working for me if I did not understand the full meaning behind words such as a "higher power". The 12 steps are tools but they're not a cure. If someone hands you a box of tools and you don't know how to use them, how can you possibly build a house? True, some people may figure it out just by experimenting, but that takes more time than if someone had just explained to you what those tools do and given you some basic lessons on how to use them.

Additionally, changing your entire outlook on life takes a lot of work and time by itself. It's not something that happens overnight. Even when I realize some new truth about myself, I have to keep reminding myself of it and working over it in my head just so I can fully absorb it and secure it in my mind. Then it may still take some trial and error just to start applying it properly.

Humans are creatures of habit. We look for reason in our environments and once we come up with a pattern of behavior it is quite stuck. Changing it takes a lot of time because our minds want to stay stuck on our old behavioral pattern, especially when the new one we are weaving for ourselves has so many "holes" and unknowns in it that our old behavioral pattern covered.

Somewhere on this site Don breaks down the 12 steps, but unfortunately I can't seem to find the link to it. I think it would be helpful to you in discovering more in depth what the 12 steps are asking you to do. Hopefully if he sees some value in it for you he will post the link! :)

Another section I recommend reading is the Iceberg (https://www.internet-of-the-mind.com/cause-low-self-esteem.html). It breaks down the childhood development of a codependent, and may be very useful to you in figuring out why you do what you do. Those feelings of shame you mentioned remind me of one of the Iceberg stages. I used to feel a lot of shame when I felt unable to change my behavior as well, but after reading that I realized that my shame was misplaced and that I was free to just let go of it.

"Let go." I struggle to follow those words every day. This is not about exerting more control over my behavior as much as it is about learning to let go of my emotions, accept them, pinpoint their true source, and quite simply love myself for who I am above all others. It sounds selfish, doesn't it? It did to me in the beginning, especially the part about loving myself above all others. However, that is how a balanced and healthy human is *supposed* to work.

I hope some of what I have said here proves to be valuable to you in your own journey.

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